The last few months we often got questions regarding the use of SharePoint as a learning environment. And yes it’s possible I would even recommend it to use it for learning purposes. Why? Well SharePoint 2010 covers almost all functionalities we need or would like to use in a learning environment.

We distinguish 2 main area’s:

The standard collaboration features:

  • Document sharing (inc. rating and metadata functionalities)
  • Discussion forums
  • Survey or polls
  • Wiki pages
  • Tagging (TAG could based navigation)
  • Keywords
  • Etc.

The social ‘networked learning’ area

  • My site
  • Newsfeeds
  • User profiles
  • Organization browser
  • Outlook and Lync integration

Point is that lots of organizations are already using SharePoint to store documents, projects related information and other things. Knowing that all the information is stored in SharePoint and people now where to look for information it’s a small step to setup a site for learning purposes. Together with my colleague Jan (@jvbelle) we did some demo sessions on how do to this. Our goal was to setup a SharePoint Learning environment in 35 minutes. So here we go.

Step 1:
Let’s start by setting up a default SharePoint team site. Doing that gives you already a few standard functionalities to start.
Step 2:

  • Add a nice welcome page, some text and an image.
  • Upload a document in the shared document library
Step 3:

  • Uploaded some more documents
  • Activated the TAG cloud, note that we can use the TAG for browsing.
  • Added a link (the image) to an online course
Step 4:

  • Started a discussion forum
Step 5:
Due to the fact that managers still love to have some figures on course usage we build our own SharePoint Webpart that pulls out the courses from the Learning Management System.
Step 6
Activate the “My Site” functionality

Perhaps the first question we could answer is the use of an external Learning Management System. You need to know that the reporting functionalities of SharePoint are limited. So in case you need some statistics about course usage you need (at this time) a ‘real’ Learning Management System.

In the next episode we will dive deeper into SharePoint and discuss some features that we can use for what’s called ‘social learning’.

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